Tag Archives: List

Belated Bests of 2010

Happy new year! I’m pleased to say that I’ve started 2011 off with my essay “My Childhood, or How I Became a Pop Culture Junkie” being published on Thought Catalog. As for 2010, here are the rest of my best-of lists.

I first started these lists in November and worked on them an embarrassing amount.  I still don’t know if I’m really happy with the orderings, but it’s going to be at least a few more years before my opinion genuinely counts for something, and if I don’t post them now it’s never going to get done. This was a great year for music, and I had the most difficulty in grading the admirably ambitious albums against the ones that were a little more immediately enjoyable against the ones that personally resonated with me the most. Ultimately, there was a lot of great music that came out with this year, and it’s impossible to listen to everything.

Top 20 Albums

1. Vampire Weekend – Contra
2. Sufjan Stevens – The Age of Adz
3. Local Natives – Gorilla Manor
4. MGMT – Congratulations
5. Arcade Fire – The Suburbs
6. Das Racist – Shut Up, Dude
7. Yeasayer – Odd Blood
8. Surfer Blood – Astrocoast
9. Kanye West – My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy
10. LCD Soundsystem – This Is Happening
11. Janelle Monáe – The ArchAndroid
12. Chromeo – Business Casual
13. Sleigh Bells – Treats
14. Los Campesinos! – Romance Is Boring
15. Marina and the Diamonds – The Family Jewels
16. Avi Buffalo – Avi Buffalo
17. Two Door Cinema Club – Tourist History
18. The Morning Benders – Big Echo
19. Beach House – Teen Dream
20. Die Antwoord – $O$

Top 30 Singles

1.  Jay-Z – On To The Next One
2.  Local Natives – World News
3.  Marina and the Diamonds – Hollywood
4.  Janelle Monáe ft Big Boi – Tightrope
5.  MGMT – Congratulations
6.  Vampire Weekend – Giving Up The Gun
7.  Local Natives – Airplanes
8.  Lady Gaga ft. Beyonce – Telephone
9.  Vampire Weekend – White Sky
10.  Chromeo – Don’t Turn The Lights On
11.  Cee Lo Green – Fuck You
12.  Duck Sauce – Barbra Streisand
13.  Mark Ronson & The Business Intl ft. Q-Tip and MNDR – Bang Bang Bang
14.  Surfer Blood – Take It Easy
15.  Marina and the Diamonds – Oh No!
16.  Sleigh Bells – Tell ‘Em
17.  N*E*R*D ft. Nelly Furtado – Hot-N-Fun
18.  M.I.A. – XXXO
19.  Die Antwoord – Evil Boy
20.  Los Campesinos! – Romance Is Boring
21.  Robyn – Dancing On My Own
22.  Yeasayer – ONE
23.  LCD Soundsystem – Drunk Girls
24.  MGMT – It’s Working
25.  Cults – Go Outside
26.  HEALTH – USA Boys
27.  Kate Nash – Do-Wah-Doo
28.  Funeral Party – NYC Moves To The Sound Of LA
29.  Robyn – Dancehall Queen
30.  Holy Ghost! – Static on the Wire

Honorable Mention:  Free Energy – Bang Pop

Top 10 Shows
1. Sufjan Stevens – 5 November – Bijou Theater, Knoxville
2. of Montreal/Janelle Monáe – 26 September – Cannery Ballroom, Nashville
3. Local Natives – 30 April – The Basement, Nashville
4. Chromeo – 26 August – Cannery Ballroom, Nashville
5. Matt and Kim – 17 October – Exit/In, Nashville
6. We Are Scientists – 23 March – The 5 Spot, Nashville
7. Die Antwoord – 3 November – Cannery Ballroom, Nashville
8. Flight of the Conchords – 28 May – Greek Theatre, Berkeley
9. Vampire Weekend – 5 April – Ryman Auditorium, Nashville
10. Sondre Lerche – 13 February – 12th & Porter, Nashville

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My Top 5 Music Videos of 2010

5. Arcade Fire – “We Used To Wait”

This is obviously on my list for its innovation and new level of fan interaction. (If you haven’t seen this before, it’s a collaboration with Google where you can put in your address and the video is customized with Google Maps footage.) Arcade Fire have always been good at crafting messages that are easy to make personal, so this really takes it to another level. Except when I tried to put in my address, I couldn’t see my house, which I was mildly disappointed in because I live very close to Google. (Fun fact: A guy I went to high school with had a summer job on the Google Maps helicopter photography team. That’s how you know you’re really from the Bay Area.)

4. Jay-Z – “On To The Next One”

I had never really spent very much time thinking about Jay-Z before watching this video. The aesthetic is just mind-blowing, stark and elegant, no excess. This has become my favorite song of the year. (I was unsure if it qualifies as a 2010 song, but it does according to my frantic Googling, so I’m going to go with that.)

3. Das Racist – “Who’s That? Brooown!”

This is another interactive one, as there’s also a game version. (I didn’t do very well on it, I’m pretty sure I let the band get eaten by sharks when I tried to play.) Done in an 8-bit animation style, this video isn’t exactly the height of visual refinement, but it still has a lot to offer. There are hoverboards, Kirsten “I’m suing Vampire Weekend for $2 million” Kennis as a villain, some light Sarah Palin mockery, and more!

2. Vampire Weekend – “Giving Up The Gun”

Obviously, I love this song. This is just a great combination of aesthetic purity, layers of cultural references, humor, and a reasonably compelling narrative. It actually sort of reminds me of “On To The Next One” with the way space is used. “Giving Up the Gun” got a decent amount of attention for its bizarre collection of cameos, including Jake Gyllenhaal, Lil Jon, RZA, and Joe Jonas. Even though this year has been such that the Joe Jonas appearance isn’t as funny now as it was when the video debuted in February, these guests add an ever-so-slightly surreal aspect to it.

Also, it’s hard to resist anything that involves people setting stuff on fire with their eyes.

1. Duck Sauce – “Barbra Streisand”

I have spent the past two-plus months pretty much wanting to live in this video. I mean, why wouldn’t you? This may not be a particularly ambitious promo in terms of telling a story, but you can’t beat that vibe. You could call the cameos gimmicky, but everyone’s legitimately connected somehow, and Kanye and Pharrell are just so undeniably cool that it shouldn’t even be a question. It’s kind of disappointing that this song never really took off in America the way it has in Europe. Its catchiness is out of control. I’m looking forward to hearing more from Alain and Armand.

Top 20 singles of the first half of 2010, based on play counts

1.  Vampire Weekend – “Holiday”
2.  Vampire Weekend – “Giving Up The Gun”
3.  Local Natives – “World News”
4.  Sleigh Bells – “Tell ‘Em”
5.  LCD Soundsystem – “Drunk Girls”
6.  Surfer Blood – “Swim”
7.  Local Natives – “Airplanes”
8.  Kate Nash – “Do-Wah-Doo”
9.  Jay-Z – “On To The Next One”
10.  Lady Gaga – “Telephone (ft. Beyoncé)”
11.  Los Campesinos! – “Romance Is Boring”
12.  Marina & the Diamonds – “Hollywood”
13.  Sondre Lerche – “If Only”
14.  Avi Buffalo – “What’s In It For?”
15.  Yeasayer – “O.N.E.”
16.  MGMT – “Flash Delirium”
17.  Two Door Cinema Club – “Something Good Can Work”
18.  We Are Scientists – “Nice Guys”
19.  We Are Scientists – “Rules Don’t Stop”
20.  Beach House – “Norway”

Honorable Mentions:
Cults – “Go Outside”
M.I.A. – “XXXO”
Phoenix – “Lasso”

This is based solely on play counts, or else I’ll get entirely too indecisive. Obviously, this gives an advantage to songs released earlier in the year, but “World News” and “Telephone” are on drastically different levels and I don’t have the mental fortitude to compare them at the moment. I cheated a little and used both US and UK release dates, considering that those are the regions that dominate my music collection.

Top Five Acceptable Uses of “Ur” in Song Titles

1. M.I.A. – “URAQT”

This song is so badass that it’s impossible to hate. In this case, the “UR” is definitively meant to represent “you are.” Additionally, the use of “QT” creates a thematic link, making the use of abbreviation more acceptable. The song also makes several references to phones and texting, the technology that has bred the culture of people who are too lazy to hit a few more keys and spell out the entire word.

2. The Kills – “URA Fever”

As the opener to the amazing album Midnight Boom, “URA Fever” gets a free pass. This song showcases the Kills at their best, with a dark, minimalist sound and effortless chemistry between Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince’s voices. Similarly to “URAQT,” the “UR” directly translates to “you are.”

3. Annie – “I Know Ur Girlfriend Hates Me”

As always, Scandinavia knows what’s up. Annie’s “I Know Ur Girlfriend Hates Me” is just over three minutes of pop perfection. This is the kind of song that is immediately and intensely catchy in all of the right ways. Polished production and Annie’s breezy, confident delivery make this a prime dancefloor-filler, and, just maybe, justify the use of the abbreviation.

4. Vampire Weekend – “I Think Ur A Contra”

I love Vampire Weekend–come on, I named this blog after one of their songs–but I can’t say I’m a fan of textspeak. “I Think Ur A Contra” is a tender, bitter reflection on a failed relationship, and the delicate end to second album Contra. While the band shows no signs of a sophomore slump, I’m perplexed as to why “Ur” was used in this song’s title, especially when most reviewers unfailingly mention that the band formed at an Ivy League university. Is it meant to contrast with the band’s inescapably intellectual image? Is it supposed to illustrate the retrospective superficiality of the relationship? Why is it “Ur” when “Yr” at least looks more like “You’re”? Whatever, I’m just going to sit back, listen to those sweet string arrangements again, and try not to think about it too much.

5. I can’t think of any other examples without stretching this to also include “yr,” which is a completely different game.